May 3, 2009

Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Step On Barney, Too

When I started reading this 1999 ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the trademark infringement case of Lyons v. Giannoulas, I was offended. Didn't the judge--or his clerk, more likely--have any consideration for the seriousness of the law? Didn't the gravity of the issue at hand warrant a less sarcastic tone?

I'm sure he did, and no, it did not. By the end, I decided it was one of the most hilarious court rulings I'd ever seen, and that whoever wrote it had a blast and deserves a high five.

Because if it's known at all, Lyons v. Giannoulas is probably referred to as Barney v. The Famous Chicken, and it was brought because the purple dinosaur's corporate overlords took great umbrage at the regular danceoff/pummelings the San Diego chicken was doling out to their precious, annoying entertainment property:

The results, according to Lyons, were profound. Lyons regales us with tales of children observing the performance who honestly believed that the real Barney was being assaulted. In one poignant account related by Lyons, a parent describes how the spectacle brought his two-year-old child to tears. In fact, we are told, only after several days of solace was the child able to relate the horror of what she had observed in her own words--"Chicken step on Barney"--without crying. After receiving such complaints from irate parents who attended the Chicken's performances with their children, Lyons sought to defend this assault on their bastion of child-like goodness and naivete.
The court affirmed its original finding, by the way, and allowed for the chicken's continued pummeling of the dinosaur.

"Lyons Partnership LP ('Lyons'), the owners of the rights to the children's caricature [sic?] Barney" []
an LA Times article from the time, 1998: "Winged Victory" []
Above: The Famous Chicken Dance-off, accompanied by MC Hammer's "Too Legit To Quit" [youtube]

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